Imagine being transported somewhere geographically that is foreign to you and then being separated from occupants that may speak your language, understand your culture, religious beliefs and values. Imagine, then being told to mate with someone that you happened to develop feelings for only to be separated from them and then made to attend show cases of strategic fear breeding exercises where your mate is the sacrifice and you are made to watch…watch your mate getting hung on a noose or torn into pieces during pregnancy and your unborn fetus falling to the ground getting crushed by your captors foot. Sadly, your uprising would send you to the grave also, and you are afraid to do ANYTHING…just sit and watch. How would this make you feel? Possibly fearful as oppose to fearless, perhaps powerless? Would this affect how you view yourself as a man? Your inability to save your woman and children or place them in a safe environment probably would send your emotions into feelings of inadequacy, worthlessness, perhaps lower your self esteem? How would your woman view you under these circumstances?
Fast foreword…2013…after years of going through these degrading showcases, coupled with education that devalues you, religious dogma that subtly degrades you and an economic system that places you as a second class citizen. So now you grow up in families that are dysfunctional and destabilized; where mothers and fathers are separated so rapidly that it becomes the norm. Your example of what a man is doesn’t exist because unfortunately he didn’t exist…well at least not in your life. So you turn to a life of crime out of desperation, frustration, making this new lifestyle your reason for being. It soon becomes your outlet to cope in an environment that stripped you of the one thing you had…manhood. In your mind there is no other alternative and you feel that for you opportunity is lessoned and the prison industrial complex now has a pull on you and soon benefits from your labor. You voluntarily placed yourself back on the plantation. How would this make you feel? Possibly fearful as oppose to fearless, perhaps powerless? Would this affect how you view yourself as a man? Your inability to provide for your woman and children or place them in a safe environment probably would send your emotions into feelings of inadequacy, worthlessness, perhaps lower your self esteem? How would your woman who appears to be making upward strides in this same environment view you under these circumstances?
Random House dictionary describes self esteem as a realistic respect for or a favorable impression of oneself; self respect. It can also be viewed as an inordinately or exaggeratedly favorable view of oneself. Self esteem however is that ingredient in human beings that drives them to succeed, accomplish and set out to do things what those whose self esteem has been lowered would feel too fearful, worthless and inadequate to do. Many would argue that in 2013 there is no excuse for Black men to languish in self pity and even to suffer from what has been referred to as low self esteem. Some would quickly say the past has nothing to do with one’s ability to move forward and should be left in the past. However, the past has everything to do with how one view’s him or her self in the present. In fact they are so closely related that in many cases intervention is needed in order to remedy the ills of the past.
Past Traumas can place people in a state of stagnation that hinders upward mobility. Black men have been reduced to the footstool of western civilization. So much so that great teachers had to come to provide “knowledge of self” treatment to remedy the ills that mentally plagued them in the past.
What happens if a person fails to receive treatment? How does that kind of man look to those who have a better view of themselves? In my opinion the lack of treatment is when the “male ego” generally comes into play. This is man’s tendency to over compensate where he feels inadequate. This “ego” also becomes a negative driving force in the lives of most of these men that are seeking compensation from everywhere except where it truly lies…IN SELF.
In conclusion, if we view the lives of men like the Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad, Malcolm X, and The Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan, all of them will confirm that it was intervention that permitted them to gain a proper view of themselves. To deprive men that have been mentally, morally and culturally stripped for generations of the “knowledge of self” treatment that is essential to their development is to keep them in a state of stagnation. So now its 2013, does that mean we should make excuses for these men that fit the description of those suffering from low self esteem? I would say, absolutely not. Especially when the treatment has been made available and others are receiving it and benefiting from it. If you’re a Black man in America and you haven’t figured out what I’m referring to at this point you’re probably not ready to receive treatment. Don’t be mad, I’m just saying.
Carlos Muhammad is the author of the book Caressed Spirits: Poetic Thoughts and reflections from a Black man’s perspective and the co-founder of Luv4self Enterprises. He currently works as an adjunct Instructor and Coordinator for the Office of Student Life at Baltimore City Community College. Carlos can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org